Thursday, April 1, 2010

Recall redux

Just last week, I wrote about how a near mis-adventure in Allie's youth illustrated the importance of teaching one's dog a rock-solid recall.

Today, nearly six years later, she had another one.

On this glorious April-masquerading-as-June day, Allie and I took a long walk around our subdivision, then headed to a nearby school field for a rousing fetch session. Generally, we head halfway up a path that leads from the sidewalk to the field, at which point I let go of her leash and let her run the rest of the way onto the field. I did that today, only to hear the sound of a distant lawn mower immediately afterward. A moment later I saw that the lawn mower was right on the field--not, as I'd thought, in one of the enclosed yards bordering it--and that it was coming closer. My stomach lurched as I called, "Allie! here!"

Thankfully, my Golden girl turned around right away and came racing back to me. I picked up her leash, praised her extravagantly, gave her a ball to carry (a reward that she really values), and we went home.

I'm supremely grateful that Allie heeded my call, but not entirely surprised. That's because she and I have been practicing that maneuver in other locations. For example, at another park we like to frequent, I let her dash up a path ahead of me--but quite often, I'll then call her back to me. The sooner she comes back, the sooner she gets the reward she knows is coming, be it a treat or the chance to carry a ball. It's a win-win situation for both of us.

Certainly we both won today. Practice not only makes perfect; practice also saves lives.


Carol Bryant said...

This is such a great message. I wish I had a super great recall word for my boy. I am working on this now.

Susan said...

Once you find that word, don't stop practicing. It makes a big difference.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes the word doesn't have to be verbal. My youngest dog will come when she hears the crackle of a string cheese wrapper (if all else fails). We, too, work on this daily.

Susan said...

Anonymous, you're absolutely right.